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2018 NFL Draft prospect profile: Da’Ron Payne (DT, Alabama)

Could the Giants reunite Dalvin Tomlinson with another former teammate?

NCAA Football: CFP National Championship Game-Alabama vs Georgia Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Giants have an under-the-radar need on the inside of their defensive line. With 2018’s free agency period approaching, they will have just Damon Harrison and Dalvin Tomlinson under contract, while Jay Bromley, Robert Thomas, and Kerry Wynn are all impending free agents.

They have an excellent foundation, but even though they are (probably) switching to more of a 3-4 base to their defense under James Bettcher, a team needs more than two defensive tackles.

The Alabama defense has been kind to the Giants over the last few years. First, Landon Collins emerged as a potential defensive player of the year in his sophomore season. Then, the Giants took Dalvin Tomlinson in the second round of the 2017 draft. The pick was considered to be a reach at the time, but he emerged as the top rookie defensive tackle in the league, particularly when it came to stuffing the run.

Could they look again to the Alabama defensive front and draft one of the top defensive tackles in the draft in Da’Ron Payne?



  • Massively powerful defensive tackle. Strong in his upper and lower body.
  • Commands and has the ability to anchor against double teams in the run game.
  • Excellent hands. Strong punch and great hand usage to keep blockers from latching on.
  • Surprisingly quick and agile in a short area. Shows some pass rush upside.
  • Flashes a good ability to anticipate the snap count.
  • Plays hard every down.


  • Limited outside of a short area. Will pursue a play, but likely isn’t going to make plays far away from his starting area.
  • Pass rush is limited if his initial rush is blunted or avoided.

Prospect Video

What They’re Saying


“I think A’Shawn Robinson was more talented than Da’Ron (Payne) and I know Robinson had better (tackle-for-loss) and sack production than him, but Payne plays harder and I think he’ll be the better NFL player. He’s thick and strong, but he’s also a really good athlete and I see his best football in front of him.” - NFC executive


Does He Fit The Giants?

There are few weaknesses to be found in Payne’s game. He is big, powerful, and athletic within his means. He plays hard and is fundamentally sound.

He will likely enter the NFL with the reputation of a run-stopping specialist, a guy who can be a problem for offenses on first and second down, but comes off the field on third down in pass rushing situations. But eventually, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he becomes an “every down” defensive tackle. While he will probably never compare to a pass rushers like Flecther Cox, Sheldon Richardson, or Aaron Donald, Payne has the quickness to eventually develop as a threat as an interior rusher.

Now, will that be in a Giants’ uniform? Well, the Giants might have a slight need for depth at the defensive interior with just two DTs under contract, but if you are drafting Payne, it isn’t with “depth” in mind. Likewise, they have the best nose tackle in the league in Damon Harrison, and the best rookie defensive tackle in Dalvin Tomlinson (Payne’s former teammate, number 54 in the game above). If the Giants look for a defensive tackle in the draft, I would expect it to be a smaller, more athletic player who can play 3 or 5 technique.